TEMPOROMANDIBULAR (TMJ) ARTHROSCOPIC SURGERY

Arthroscopic surgery is a surgical technique recommended for patients with structural damage inside the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).  This damage may include displaced cartilage, damage to the cartilage that lines the skull bone or jawbone (chondromalacia), inflammation of the capsular ligaments of the joint (capsulitis), inflammation of the joint lining (synovitis) or breakdown of the bony components of the joint (osteoarthritis).  Other disease conditions like rheumatoid arthritis may also affect the TMJ.

Diagnosis of these and other conditions can usually be made from assessment of the history of the condition and clinical examination.  Confirmation may be gained through special tests including TMJ arthrograms, MRI scans or CT scans.

These conditions are generally initially treated with conservative measures, including physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, bite splint therapy, and arthrocentesis (washing out of the joint space).  The vast majority of patients with painful temporomandibular joint problems respond well to conservative therapy.  However some patients will continue to have pain despite excellent conservative therapy.

Patient’s who have persistent TMJ pain following conservative therapy may be candidates for arthroscopic surgery.  Arthroscopic surgery is an operation performed by trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons.  The operation is performed in hospital under general anaesthesia.  Most patients can have this surgery done on an out-patient basis.


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